First Baptist Church Of Auburndale Celebrates 100 Years
by James Coulter
For the past 74 years, Jim Jordan has been attending First Baptist Church of Auburndale. He has lived in the same city his whole life, and he has attended the same church all his life. He was married there. His children were married there. And his entire family was baptized there.
What keeps him returning to the same pews of that same church has been the overall sense of family and community. Having lived in the same city and attended the same church, he knows everyone by name, and everyone is a familiar face.
“My fondest memories were seeing my children baptized and married here,” Jordan said. “I like the members of the church, it is like a family-friendly church. We had some wonderful preachers and choir directors and music directors all through the years.”
For one hundred years, First Baptist Church of Auburndale has drawn in hundreds of church members, hundreds of families, and with hundreds of thousands of sermons preached from its pulpit. The church celebrated its centennial anniversary last Sunday.
In the fall of 1920, the church started its humble beginnings with ten people composing its body of believers. In December of that same year, the church built its first sanctuary building with the help of 75 people and only $75 in their bank account, their Facebook page explained.
“Many people have walked through the doors of FBC,” their Facebook page stated. “FBC is not a building, but a group of people, each individual a vital part of the whole. Each one finds a place of belonging, a place where the love of Christ is shared and hearts are encouraged, lives are changed, and Jesus is lifted high.”
Tom Johnson has served as the current pastor for the past 15 years. The faith of his congregation, especially those of the young children and the seniors, have been an inspiration for him to remain with the church.
“We are excited about the future. We have opportunities to go out and invite people to come and talk to them about the Lord,” he said. “We are excited about growing the church and expanding God’s kingdom.”
Being able to oversee a church with a century-long legacy has also been a real inspiration for him. To know that he is one in a long line of pastors who have served at the church over the past 100 years is nothing short of an honor for him.
“It is a great blessing to pastor to people who have sat under a number of pastors,” Johnson said. “It is a great blessing to have an opportunity to reach more people.”
Claudia Smith was a member of the church from 1992 to 2004. During that time, she served as its organist back when the church had an organ. She loved being involved with the music department and its directors and members.
Though she no longer attends the church, she appreciated the memories she had within it. Those memories inspired her to visit once more for the church’s centennial celebration.
“I am thankful to have been able to come back today to celebrate the 100th anniversary,” she said. “The years I have been here, it has helped my faith. It created a deep love of Jesus and for community even though I lived in Lakeland, I would come here to church, mainly because of the music. It simply spoke to my heart.”